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“Busy Bodies!” - agent slams industry leaders writing code of conduct

The new code of conduct for estate agents has been dismissed as “a waste of time” - and the senior industry figures who are involved in the process have been called “a bunch of busy bodies.”

Buying agent Henry Pryor angrily took to Twitter to vent his dismay for the start of the consultation process for the new code of conduct, announced yesterday.

The code is being drawn up by senior representatives of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, Propertymark, The Property Ombudsman, the National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agents Team, Property Redress Scheme and many others.


It is the first practical manifestation of the recommendations made a year ago this month by Lord Best’s high profile Regulation of Property Agents working party.

The code will include agent training and development, conflicts of interests, complaints handling, handling client money, transparency of communication and reporting property safety issues.

However, on one tweet Pryor referred to the as-yet unfinished code as “a waste of time and a distraction” while on another he wrote that “A bunch of busy bodies with too much time on their hands came up with a 14 point ‘code’ to solve problems that those who routinely ignore the law will simply wave two fingers at.”

The group writing the code are now consulting with agents and consumers over what they want to see the final version contain; the consultation closes in early September and the group - led by Labour Baroness Dianne Hayter - aims to have the work completed by the end of this year.

Comments left on articles in the trade press yesterday were mixed-to-critical of the code of conduct’s 14 broad principles, which several pointed out were like those already in place through The Property Ombudsman.

Viewber founder Ed Mead, an agent for over three decades, said in a Twitter video that he was a fan of higher standards in principle but worried that the current process involves a large group of industry figures consulting widely: he would rather two or three people "who knew what they were doing" to implement the ROPA recommendations.

If you missed it, here’s our story on the new code from yesterday, including the full list of industry figures involved.

  • The  Duchess

    I agree with Ed Mead. We need to be clearly recognised as the professionals that most of us are and I am in favour of the exams to bring everyone up to a higher level. Feel it would get rid of a lot of dead wood however too many people involved.

    Angelo  Piccirillo CEO AVRillo

    Tell you what will get rid of more dead wood Rebecca, more enforcement powers, and stricter penalties. Those that break the rules are making it difficult for the good agents.

  • Chris Arnold

    Spot-on, Henry.

    It will have as much impact as the A.S.A does on misleading ads. The blind leading the blind.

  • Paul Singleton

    The issue with exams is that they never seem to have any relevance to what we do on a day to day basis. Actual case studies would be much better asking how we would deal with real situations. Instead it will no doubt be ‘what year was this act introduced’ or when was xxx replaced by yyy. Absolute nonsense!

    Angelo  Piccirillo CEO AVRillo

    It could go so easily go down that line. It needs active agents like you Paul, who know the day to day business to push for practical regulations and enforcement

  • icon

    Is it fine for associations and government departments to assume they have the slightest clue about developing industry standards. But unless it is developed independently it’s going to be a irrational stitch up.
    Use British standards and develop a Publicly available specialisation. They have a proven track record of developing standards because they invented standards.
    Ditch the kangaroo court method.

  • icon

    In NSW Australia we have had 19 general 'Rules of Conduct' written into the Property and Stock Agents Act since 2003. Plus more for sales and property manger occupations. 17 years ago it was a big deal - now its just part of everyday business. This year's annual compulsory CPD includes an hour-long refresher on the Rules.
    On exams - until 2003, operators of an estate agency business (say, branch manager) needed to hold a Diploma in Property Services. In 2003 it was dumbed down to an NVQ4 equivalent, and just been increased again to a DIploma. Also, NSW has also increased mandatory training required before anyone can even start as an estate agent or property manager to about 1/3 of an NVQ4.
    You have had it easy in the UK (where I started in 1986).

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    • 21 July 2020 09:17 AM

    CPD training is required by HGV drivers BEFORE they can drive for a living.

    Such training should be the case for LA/EA and Landlords before they operate as such.

  • Proper Estate Agent

    If you want a job for life, lobby the gov to set up something mandatory that you run and your set; ombudsman, estate agents exams, client money protection. They are all in my view not worth a penny and still they keep coming, draining the life out of the industry.

  • Richard Copus

    I can't understand for the life of me why anyone can complain about having to have a proven minimum standard of competence to work, which includes some pretty basic examinations, when they are dealing with people's most valuable assets and where incompetent advice can affect someone for the rest of their lives. As Guy Innes from Australia says where the States practice English Law (as sensibly amended for residential property sales) "It's not a big deal".

  • Welsh  Cynic

    If standards were raised, perhaps the public perception of estate agents could also be raised. At the moment it is a free for all, where anybody who can advertise on the web and subscribe to a portal can mislead a naive home owner to give them responsibility for the sale of their biggest asset! What would be wrong, as a minimum requirement, to be expected to take a test on the basics of law, regulation and professional practice, to obtain a licence to practice.? If you fail that, then work on getting the ability to meet it. You need a licence to drive a car, is it less important than that?

  • Don Holmes

    I have been around a long time and was part of the consultation process for accreditation of Landlords and properties both with Liverpool and Wirral councils.
    This was doomed to fail as it had no teeth, so along came selective licencing (just a big money making scam) although it has more teeth it is abused by those recognising, its a chancers game as the LA's don't have the resources to police it correctly, also in Liverpool's case the LA abused the system by tarring everyone with same brush, and buy the way they are at it again trying to "selectively licence as many areas as they can"
    In my view the only thing that might work better is a National standard qualification and licence to operate with regular checks. As has been said above you need a licence to drive a car, you also need an annual MOT.

  • icon

    My biggest concern is the enthusiasm those heading this have shown for the introduction of Financial Services Act, which those of us who had the misfortune to be working in that industry at the time, remember as being a s#itshow seemingly designed to concentrate power in the hands of the corporates and provide an easy access to jobs in the industry when their public sector pension pots have been filled nicely.

  • Kristjan Byfield

    A lot of the outlines are already enshrined in consumer protection or industry legislation. Without proper, long-term funding for effective and rigorous enforcement and talk around that a lot of this is meaningless. We already have so much regulation but it fails to eradicate the rogue element because of appalling enforcement structure. Unless this is approached any new rules & bodies will change nothing.

  • icon

    I don't see a problem with regulating the industry. All good agents will have nothing to fear while those that constantly bend or break the rules will have to get their house in order. My only concern is how it would be enforced.
    It's long overdue.

    Angelo  Piccirillo CEO AVRillo

    My point exactly Philip. Without teeth, those that care will be spends hours and hours on complying, does that don't care, and know there is a small risk of enforcement (a big chunk of agents sadly) will just carry out regardless. The consultation must push enforcement measures.

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    • 21 July 2020 17:04 PM

    Shouldn't it be relatively easy for EA/LA to be regulated?
    Most Councils could in a day establish whether all the EA/LA on their patch have complied with all the relevant regulations.

    It is not as though EA/LA aren't highly visible!!!


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